Employment laws are a growing topic, within company offices in almost every business entity. Employment laws extend back for decades; however, changes to newly mandated government initiatives have raised new sets of questions for compliance officers.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act 2008
The federally mandated Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is one in particular that has pushed the compliance officer to consider its actions when developing health care plans for its employees. This anti-discriminating law restricts company employment practices from discriminating against individuals based on their genetic makeup or family’s genetic history (Kalter, 2012). The law prevents companies from increase insurance premiums, cancelling policies based on genetic information obtained voluntary or involuntary. This law took effect in November 2009, it also prevented health care insurance issuers from collecting genetic information, but it also addressed wellness programs sponsored by employers. As it stands now, the law only covers companies with fifteen or more employees.
Since GINA passed, employers have re-evaluated their disclosure policy in their wellness programs to exclude questions that require family medical history information. GINA also provided employers further guidance on how they collect information from third party entities, when employers request medical information about leave or disability accommodation, the employer must include a “safe harbor” clause, so doctors understand not to include any genetic information about their patients in their reports (Kalter, 2012).
The cost of health care has increased and more companies are creating wellness programs that offer employees incentives for milestones beyond the typical healthcare coverage. Incentive like fitness membership, weight loss programs, and exercise challenges are becoming the norm for companies. The wellness guidelines enable employees to gain control over their personal health but it is hard to disassociate the benefits the company’s reap from having such programs tied into its healthcare plans cost. Once the Affordable Care Act 2010 (ACA) was approved, the wellness programs seem to be a viable option for employers to reduce their health care group premium cost and offset company expenses to further fund additional health care for employees who may become eligible for insurance benefits.
GINA provision has been met with some resistance because there are contradictions with the ACA in relations to the wellness programs that the health care acts advocate for employers to establish. While the EEOC is the regulatory agency who will process the discrimination claims, it is interesting to see how going forward the two laws will consist in the workplace.
Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938
The employment classification debate between exempt and non- exempt employment statuses will continue into the near future. The debate will...